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ASCI announces Covid-2019 advertising advisory

Advisory to advertisers so that they can adhere better to ASCI code on misleading advertisements.

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MUMBAI: The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has directed brands to ensure that their adverts do not proliferate unsubstantiated claims related to Covid2019 that mislead and misinform the people.

The self-regulatory industry body has issued a new set of guidelines on Covid2019-related ads that advertisers must adhere to, in a move to shield consumers from false and/or misleading information and products in the midst of the pandemic.

As per the advisory: "Advertisers should be able to substantiate (direct or indirect) claims of immunity against or treatment for Covid2019 supported by either technical support recognised or approved by health authorities such as WHO, ICMR, Health Ministry, Ayush Ministry, DCGI, CDC (USA), or health organisations of similar stature or by well-recognised medical/technical literature or by regulatory-approved clinical research conducted by a recognised medical institute/laboratory."

It further warned advertisers not to distort facts or mislead consumers by means of implications and omissions, abuse their trust or otherwise exploit their lack of experience and knowledge.

ASCI also issued a firm reminder to manufacturers of Ayurvedic, Unani and Homeopathic products to abide by the guidelines set in place by the Ministry of Ayush regarding Covid2019 advertisements.

The advisory is in line with Chapter 1 of ASCI’s code related to truthfulness and honesty of representation and, thus, the creation of consumer confidence in advertising.

ASCI general secretary Manisha Kapoor said the pandemic is a difficult time for people and brands alike, but it cannot be a pretext to mislead consumers.

“We want advertisers to be more mindful in creating advertisements and making claims related to Covid-19. Given the pandemic and the extended lockdowns, people are obviously concerned. Manufacturers and brands have also responded to consumer needs arising out of the pandemic. However, we want these products and advertisements to stick to claims and promises that are well backed by adequate substantiation. The advisory to advertisers is meant to safeguard consumers as well as to ensure the highest standards for advertising,” she said.

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